It's easy to think highly of one's self, but we do seem to be living in unprecedented times. KSR's latest novel, The Ministry for the Future, seems to have come at a perfect moment to address the converging crises of our times. Given its urgent and wide subject matter, MftF's readership has spread further than the usual circles of speculative fiction afictionados and into the world of current politics, op-eds, opinion pieces and highly-regarded mainstream media. Here is a glimpse of how this novel impacted the most important discussion of our times.
Announcement: the trade paperback edition of MftF is scheduled to be released on October 19, featuring an all-new cover (pictured above).
First, Kim Stanley Robinson's own articles and writings:
KSR's TED talk (at TEDMonterey): Remembering climate change... a message from the year 2071
Also available on YouTube. This includes a transcript in 8 languages.
The question at that desperate point was: Could things change? [...] Looking back from our perspective 60 years later, this of course looks possible, because they did it. But it was by no means a sure thing. You have to imagine what it felt like at the time, when panic filled the air, and no one could be sure success was even physically possible.
KSR's article on the Financial Times: A climate plan for a world in flames
What does it feel like to live on the brink of a vast historical change? It feels like now.
(+ a reader letter on that: The young will need resilience to cope with a dystopian future)
KSR's article on The Washington Post: A declining world population isn’t a looming catastrophe. It could actually bring some good.
In other words, the precarity and immiseration of the unemployed would disappear as everyone had access to work that gave them an income and dignity and meaning (one new career category: restoring and repairing wildlands and habitat corridors for our cousin species), but this would still be a bad thing for the economy. The economy, measured by profit, being the most important thing. More important than people.
KSR's article on The Nation: The Novel Solutions of Utopian Fiction
Utopias exist to remind us that there could be a better social order than the one we are in. Our present system is the result of a centuries-old power struggle, and it is devastating people and the biosphere. We must change it—and fast.
KSR's article on Bloomberg Green: The City as a Survival Mechanism
What we’ll ask of cities in the climate era includes many contradictions, even some double binds. The climate city will need to be compact but with green space. It will have to be energy-efficient but also home to a great deal of industrial production. Instead of being carbon hot spots, belching out emissions, it would be better if cities were carbon-neutral heat sinks, helping to cool the planet. And while a good deal of agriculture and even animal husbandry should take place in cities, to help empty more of the country, our urban spaces should also feel pleasant and parklike for their human inhabitants.
Second, interviews. New interviews are so many, I will just list them here, chronologically, March to August:
- Warm Regards podcast: Building our Climate Futures Through Storytelling, with Eric Holthaus + Kim Stanley Robinson
- WPKN Digging in the Dirt Radio
- WREK Lost in the Tracks Radio (direct link)
- Resilience What Possibly Go Right? Podcast
- LitHub's Amy Brady: How Contemporary Novelists Are Confronting Climate Collapse in Fiction: a Roundtable with Omar El Akkad, John Lanchester, Lydia Millet, Kim Stanley Robinson, Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Madeleine Watts, and Diane Wilson: part 1 + part 2
- The Climate Pod (podcast)
- Money on the Left podcast
- Open Book on Location: Kim Stanley Robinson and Barbara Kingsolver (video)
- Planetary Regeneration podcast
- Building the Dream podcast
- The New Yorker: Is Mars Ours? (exceptionally, this one is not about MftF but about the Mars trilogy!)
- KQED: Imagining a Not So Grim Post-Apocalyptic Future with Writers Kim Stanley Robinson and Annalee Newitz
- The New York Times: What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis? (Ezra Klein interviews Saul Griffith, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Sheila Jasanoff, Kim Stanley Robinson)
- The Economist: The World Ahead: The growing risk of deadly heatwaves (podcast)
- Harvard Business Review: Imagining Climate Futures with Kim Stanley Robinson (podcast)
- Slate: Future Tense: I Can’t Stop Thinking About the First Chapter of This Climate Change Novel
- The New Yorker Radio Hour: Reading About Climate Change as the Summer Gets Hotter
- Time: "You Need to Use Hope like a Club to Beat Your Opponent."
Third, reviews of MftF:
- Gabriel Carlyle in Peace News
- Nick Foster in We Know Zero
- Peter Berard in Dig Boston
- Gareth Watkins in the Los Angeles Review of Books (along with two other books)
- Todd Tucker
- David Schwartzman in the Washington Socialist
- Ashish Kothari in Mongabay (India)
- Dan Dinello in Informed Comment (also here)
- Oliver Arditi
- Javier Sethness Castro in the Institute for Anarchist Studies
- David Zetland in The one-handed economist
- Mark Heywood in the Maverick Citizen (South Africa)
- George Katsiaficas in Counter Punch
- Avery Davis Lamb in Sojourners (paywall - print/online magazine, August 2021 issue)
- Vincent J. Miller in America: The Jesuit Review
- Pat Kane in The National (Scotland)
- Lynn Fitz-Hugh in Yes! Magazine
But that's not just it. Plenty of readers have taken MftF and ran with it, referring to it to build a case or as as source of inspiration, and more:
- This LA Progressive article starts from MftF to imagine a Ministry of Climate Modification
- This Popular Science article on carbon coins refers to MftF
- KSR's various op-eds are discussed in an article on the new era of climate journalism
- Andreas Malm, author of How To Blow Up A Pipeline that KSR has referred to, refers to MftF in turn in his response on Verso Books
- The Guardian on climate optimism
- Deanna K Kreisel in Public Books uses MftF alongside two other recent books, by Bill Gates and Ailton Krenak, to discuss utopia, optimism and realism
- Inspired by MftF, on planting urban forests
- Bill McKibben in The New Yorker on slowing down after the pandemic
- Derrick O'Keefe on the 2021 British Columbia heat wave
- Los Angeles Times on climate fiction
- The climate crisis as seen from the city of Duluth, Minnesota
- Eliza Daley in Resilience.org muses on Baram's claim "we need a new religion"
- Bianca Wylie, on the acceptable field of discourse of solutions
Finally, MftF was a finalist for the 2021 Locus Award for Best SF Novel and for the 2020 Kitschies Award (awarded for "the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic").
This is the end of the links lists...for now. Coming up in the fall: KSR will be at the UNFCCC COP in Glasgow!